Sparked by lightning strikes, extreme wildfire conditions and an unrelenting heatwave, California’s unprecedented 2020 fire season set a new state record with more than 2.5-million acres burned, doing so by early September, and also accounted for three of the state’s top four largest wildfires ever.
In mid-August, multiple complex wildfires burned throughout Northern California, including the August Complex in Mendocino National Forest, now the largest wildfire in state history. The SCU Lightning Complex in Santa Clara and neighboring counties and the LNU Lightning Complex in the Wine Country areas of Lake and Napa counties moved into third and fourth all-time, respectively, for the state’s largest wildfires.
Governor Gavin Newsom secured a federal Fire Management Assistance Grant (FMAG) on Aug. 20 for the CZU August Lightning Complex Fire in Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties and for the SCU Lightning Complex on Aug. 21. President Donald J. Trump approved California’s request for a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration on Aug. 22 to bolster the state’s emergency response to wildfires burning in Northern California and support impacted residents in Lake, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma and Yolo counties.
Firefighters were besieged by another onslaught of massive wildfires in early September. Governor Newsom declared a State of Emergency on Sept. 6 in the counties of Fresno, Madera and Mariposa for the Creek Fire, in San Bernardino for the El Dorado Fire, and in San Diego for the Valley Fire.
California received mutual aid from at least a dozen states, as well as international first responder assistance.